Saturday April 13, 2024

‘Collaboration can help make Pakistan’s economy better’

By Rasheed Khalid
March 12, 2023

Islamabad : Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, has said that if you have a dream and the will, this country would help you achieve your dreams but you need to put in a lot of hard work.

The minister was deliberating on inaugural day of 2-day first-ever economy EconFest (economy festival) organised by Pakistan Institute of Development Economists (PIDE) here Saturday.

Mr Iqbal said that for public service, you need conviction and desire to help your country and people. He said that if there is a conflict in society, no policy will be successful. Pakistan’s 75-year history shows that we made robust policies. However, we are lagging behind countries like South Korea, Turkiye and others in terms of policy consistency. He opined that we were on course to become the next Japan of South Asia but firstly the 1965 war set us back. Secondly, in 1991, investment came in many sectors with the participation of the private sector but the then government was thrown out, which again derailed Pakistan’s economic progress. The third chance we got in the shape of CPEC.

The Chinese government was very interested in investing in Pakistan but the new regime that came to power in 2018 started alleging corruption in the CPEC project, which again derailed Pakistan. He observed that the country’s interest should be not sacrificed for the sake of conflict and politics and we must learn to collaborate and cooperate as Pakistanis to make Pakistan’s economy better. To develop its economy, the Minister said, Pakistan needs to curb tax evasion, increase tax collection, and increase its exports from around $30 billion to $100 billion in the next 5 to 8 years.

He said that we also need to develop our youth’s IT skills for which the climate situation needs to be tackled. Most importantly, we need to tackle the issue of energy, which is a huge drain on Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves for which we need to move to renewable energy resources. He said that we also need to focus on equity in education and health.

Earlier, Dr Nadeem ul Haque, vice-chancellor of PIDE said that Pakistan was in the emergency ward of IMF for the last many decades. He said that it is not the fault of any one government, but the economic problems have accumulated over the years. Dr Faheem Jehangir Khan, also from PIDE, said that we are an aid-dependent country and our appetite for aid is huge and never gets satiated. Our policies are donor-driven and we look for readymade policies to implement without relying on homegrown research and solutions. Dr Durre Nayab said that Pakistan also needs to tactfully handle the problem of population which needs urgent attention.